During the late 70s/early 80s a small pub in downtown Sydney, called the Sussex Hotel, was the birthplace of the Australian mod revival. When the 2 Tone movement erupted in Britain (with Madness, The Specials, The Selecter etc) it was inevitable that Ska too would end up there. One of Australia’s first ska bands, The Allniters, got their start at the Sussex in 1980.
The band began as a loose-knit aggregation around guitarist Martin Fabok. The band’s only ambition at that stage was to have fun, although early gigs were often marred by fights between skinheads, mods, Rude Boys and surfers.
Their first two independent singles, She Made A Monkey Out Of Me (August 1981) and You Shouldn’t Stay Out Late (1982) for the Green label made only a marginal impression.
At the same time, Fabok, Crysell, Taylor and a host of other musicians formed an occasional studio band called The Igniters, to play dub reggae (the only release from that vehicle was a self-titled four-track EP in 1982).
By the time The Allniters signed to Powderworks/RCA in 1983 their live reputation was formidable. The singles Hold On (May 83), a cover of Bobby Bloom’s Montego Bay (Sept 83) and Love and Affection (Nov 83), plus the debut album D-D-D-Dance(October 83) were all National Top 40 hits (Montego Bay reached #16).
The album garnered very favourable reviews and the band entered what was to be their peak period. By this time the line-up comprised Hill-Travis, Pattinson, Ayers, Fabok, Taylor, Crysell, plus Julie Conway on vocals, Stephen Luke on trombone, Perry Andronos on bass and Dave Lennon on drums.
Following two more singles – Screaming Dreaming (August 1984) and I Saw You First (Dec 84), the band split in January 1985. By July that year though, Travis, Pattinson and Conway had revived the band with new members Mark Tanner (guitar), Peter Bolke (bass), Mark Fuccilli (sax), Ralph Franke (sax) and Dale Pandit (drums).
Further personnel changes took place, and by the following year, there were more newcomers; Michael Allen (keyboards), Mickey Marnie (guitar), Simon Knapman (drums) and Troy Duncomb (bass).
This new line-up recorded the single All That Easy (1987 – produced by Martin Plaza from Mental As Anything) for Mushroom Records. The single had no chart success and The Allniters disbanded.
A compilation album, The Very Best of… was released in 1997.
The Allniters reformed with a new lead singer, Miss Velvet Vass (real name Juliana Vasilkov), and released Nowhere Fast on the Sound System Record label, with Another Fine Mess following in early 2000. The Allniters disbanded again in 2001, reforming briefly in 2004 to support UB40 on an Australian tour.